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A Camp near Fores.
Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier'.
DUN. What bloody man is that? He can report, As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
This is the sergeant,
*First folio, Captain.
I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fair. JOHNSON.
This expression seems to have been proverbial. Spenser has it in the 4th book of The Fairy Queen:
"Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in fight."
8 This is the SERGEANT,] Holinshed is the best interpreter of Shakspeare in his historical plays; for he not only takes his facts from him, but often his very words and expressions. That historian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, that on the first appearance of a mutinous spirit among the people, the king sent a sergeant at arms into the country, to bring up the chief offenders to answer the charge preferred against them; but they, instead of obeying, misused the messenger with sundry reproaches, and finally slew him. This sergeant at arms is certainly the origin of the bleeding sergeant introduced on the present occasion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holinshed, but the rest of the story not suiting his purpose, he does not adhere to it. The stage-direction of entrance, where the bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the player editors, and not of the poet.
Sergeant, however, (as the ingenious compiler of the Glossary to A. of Wyntown's Cronykil observes,) is "a degree in military service now unknown."
"Of sergeandys thare and knychtis kene
"He gat a gret cumpany." B. viii. ch. xxvi. v. 396. The same word occurs again in the fourth Poem of Lawrence Minot,
"He hasted him to the swin, with sergantes snell,
"To mete with the Normandes that fals war and fell."
Who, like a good and hardy soldier, fought
Doubtful it stood;
The multiplying villainies of nature
According to M. le Grand, (says Mr. Ritson) sergeants were a sort of gens d'armes. STEEVENS.
9 DOUBTFULLY it stood;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to assist the metre, and reads
"Doubtful long it stood,"
has thereby injured the sense. If the comparison was meant to coincide in all circumstances, the struggle could not be long.
"Doubtfully it stood; "
The old copy has-Doubtfull-so that my addition consists of but a single letter. STEEVENS.
Yet the line but one preceding is left unaltered, though equally defective. BOSWELL.
1 - Macdonwald-] Thus the old copy. According to Holinshed we should read-Macdowald. STEEVENS.
So also the Scottish Chronicles. However, it is possible that Shakspeare might have preferred the name that has been substituted, as better sounding. It appears from a subsequent scene that he had attentively read Holinshed's account of the murder of King Duff, by Donwald, Lieutenant of the castle of Fores; in consequence of which he might, either from inadvertence, or choice,
here written-Macdonwald. MALONE.
2TO that, &c.] i. e. in addition to that. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act I. Sc. I.:
"The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength,
The soldier who describes Macdonwald, seems to mean, that, ' in addition to his assumed character of rebel, he abounds with the numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable.' STEEVENS.
To that I should rather explain as meaning to that end: multiplying villanies have fitted him to become a rebel.' MALONE.
from the western isles
OF Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied;] Whether sup
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, Show'd like a rebel's whore: But all's too weak:
plied of, for supplied from or with, was a kind of Grecism of Shakspeare's expression; or whether of be a corruption of the editors, who took Kernes and Gallowglasses, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know. "Hinc conjecturæ vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis similia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armaturæ quos Kernos vocant, nec non secures et loricæ ferreæ peditum illorum gravioris armaturæ, quos Galloglassios appellant." Warai Antiq. Hiber, cap. vi. WARBURTON.
Of and with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
"Perform'd of pleasure by your son the prince."
Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, hist. vi. : "Sypontus in the mean time is prepared of two wicked gondoliers," &c. Again, in The History of Helyas Knight of the Sun, bl. 1. no date: he was well garnished of spear, sword, and armoure," &c. These are a few out of a thousand instances which might be brought to the same purpose.
Kernes and Gallowglasses are characterized in The Legend of Roger Mortimer. See The Mirror for Magistrates : the Gallowglas, the Kerne,
"Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they slay." See also Stanyhurst's Description of Ireland, ch. viii. fol. 28. Holinshed, edit. 1577. STEEVENS.
The old copy has Gallow-grosses. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.
We have the following description of Kernes and Gallowglasses in Barnabie Riche's New Irish Prognostication, p. 37: "The Galloglas succeedeth the Horseman, and hee is commonly armed with a scull, a shirt of maile, and a Galloglas axe: his service in the field, is neither good against horsemen, nor able to endure an encounter of pikes, yet the Irish do make great account of them. The Kerne of Ireland are next in request, the very drosse and scum of the countrey, a generation of villaines not worthy to live these be they that live by robbing and spoyling the poor countreyman, that maketh him many times to buy bread to give unto them, though he want for himself and his poore children. These are they that are ready to run out with everie rebell, and these are the verie hags of hell fit for nothing but for the gallows." BOSWELL.
4 And fortune, on his damned QUARREL Smiling,] The old copy has-quarry; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to
For brave Macbeth, (well he deserves that name,) Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
be found in that sense in Holinshed's account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the Prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel to endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is, "Fortune smiling on his execrable cause," &c. JOHNSON.
The word quarrel occurs in Holinshed's relation of this very fact, and may be regarded as a sufficient proof of its having been the term here employed by Shakspeare: "Out of the western isles there came to Macdowald a great multitude of people, to assist him in that rebellious quarrel." Besides, Macdowald's quarry (i. e. game) must have consisted of Duncan's friends, and would the speaker then have applied the epithet-damned to them? and what have the smiles of fortune to do over a carnage, when we have defeated our enemies? Her business is then at an end. Her smiles or frowns are no longer of any consequence. We only talk of these, while we are pursuing our quarrel, and the event of it is uncertain.
The word-quarrel, in the same sense, occurs also in MS. Harl. 4690: "Thanne sir Edward of Bailoll towke his leve off king Edwarde, and went ayenne into Scottelonde, and was so grete a lorde, and so moche had his wille, that he touke no hede to hem that halpe him in his quarelle;" &c. STEEVENS.
The reading proposed by Dr. Johnson, and his explanation of it, are strongly supported by a passage in our author's King
And put his cause and quarrel "To the disposing of the cardinal." Again, in this play of Macbeth :
and the chance, of goodness, "Be like our warranted quarrel.”
Here we have warranted quarrel, the exact opposite of damned quarrel, as the text is now regulated.
Lord Bacon, in his Essays, uses the word in the same sense: "Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses; so as a man may have a quarrel to marry, when he will." MALONE.
Johnson's emendation is probably right; but it should be recollected that quarry means not only game, but also an arrow, an offensive weapon; we might say without objection, "that Fortune smiled on a warrior's sword." BosWELL.
5 Show'd like a rebel's whore:] I suppose the meaning is, that fortune, while she smiled on him, deceived him. Shakspeare probably alludes to Macdowald's first successful action,
Which smok'd with bloody execution,
Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave "; And ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
elated by which he attempted to pursue his fortune, but lost his life. MALOne.
6 Like valour's minion,
Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave ;] The old copy reads
"Like valour's minion, carv'd out his passage
As an hemistich must be admitted, it seems more favourable to the metre that it should be found where it is now left." Till he fac'd the slave," could never be designed as the beginning of a verse, if harmony were at all attended to in its construction. STEEVENS.
"Like valour's minion." So, in King John: fortune shall cull forth,
"Out of one side, her happy minion." MALONE.
7 AND NE'ER shook hands, &c.] The old copy reads-" Which
shook hands." So, in King Henry VI. Part III. : "Till our King Henry had shook hands with death."
Mr. Pope, instead of which, here, and in many other places, reads-who. But there is no need of change. There is scarcely one of our author's plays in which he has not used which for who. So, in The Winter's Tale: "the old shepherd, which stands by," &c. MALONE.
The old reading-" Which never," appears to indicate that some antecedent words, now irretrievable, were omitted in the playhouse manuscript; unless the compositor's eye had caught which from a foregoing line, and printed it instead of And. Which, in the present instance, cannot well have been substituted for who, because it will refer to the slave Macdonwald, instead of his conqueror Macbeth. STEEVENS.
8-he unseam'd him from the NAVE to the chaps,] We seldom hear of such terrible cross blows given and received but by giants and miscreants in Amadis de Gaule. Besides, it must be a strange aukward stroke that could unrip him upwards from the navel to the chaps. But Shakspeare certainly wrote: he unseam'd him from the nape to the chaps." i. e. cut his skull in two; which might be done a Highlander's sword. This was a reasonable blow, and very naturally expressed,